I didn’t graduate from high school. I was doing dual-enrollment (a combination of home school and public school, so I could take AP classes and be part of the theater department, but skip ridiculous classes like careers (where my teacher gave extra credit for every business card we brought in and then had us spend the class period stapling them to the walls – he wanted to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for biggest business card collection)), so I didn’t have enough credits to graduate.
The day before I left for college (because you don’t need a high school diploma to get into college), one of my best friends, Nate, took me on a date with another friend of his and another girl. After dinner, he got a phone call from his sister, asking him to stop by the house on our way to wherever we were going and drop something off. We parked in front of his house, and he said all four of us could run in. Just before we reached the front door, he turned to me and said “You know how we both hate surprise parties more than anything?” We’d had this discussion several times, because he was one of the few people I knew who felt like I did on this particular subject. I nodded. “I’m sorry,” he said, and turned the doorknob. And inside was a big gathering of people for a surprise “graduation” party.
Nate had made up a diploma (which I still have somewhere) and invited both of my parents to give a graduation speech. My Mom said some lovely things about how much she enjoyed having a daughter who loved, like her, both reading and travel. Then my dad stood up. My dad is very friendly and hilarious, but he looks a bit intimidating to some people, I know. Some of my friends thought he was pretty reserved and maybe a little stern (simply because they didn’t know him). From what I heard afterwards, a few of my friends were quite shocked by what happened next.
My family loves to quote movie lines. We judge a movie by how many quotable lines there are (The Secret of Roan Inish, for instance, was judged harshly). We use many many of these lines in our everyday conversations. My dad had written a speech about my life and imminent departure for college based almost entirely on movie lines. His delivery of it was so hilarious and so quick-paced that most of the audience probably missed most of it entirely. My family, on the other hand, was practically rolling on the floor. It was the BEST and least boring graduation speech likely ever given.
Here it is. Points for every movie quote you can attribute:
I’ve never spoken at a graduation before. Always too busy. 8:00 Jazzercise, 8:30 Solve World hunger — tell no one. But since I’m here and it’s Wednesday, “It’s Wednesday, David,” I’d like to tell you a little about my favorite graduate, Janssen.
Janssen was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1985. She was born with charm, vast innate intelligence, and an explosive personality. “I’ve got nitro!” In no time at all she was reading classics like “Sammy’s Fossey Day” and “meadows of Shlodu.”
Janssen loves drama, acting, and movie making. Her famous line, “Get out. You’re wrecking the movie” was soon eclipsed by “Draw me a sheep,” making her a major blonde in a major car. Breath? Good? Yes? Now, she is my biggest fan.
But her favorite past time was reading. Reading and more reading. She soon read faster than her mother or me, and eating. “I was particularly fond of those little chickens.” “This time, I’m keeping it off.” And drinking. “Would that be in the cellar with the wine, Sir? Show a little class, air it out, air it out.” Strictly, milk, juice and water, of course.
Growing up, Janssen loved to pretend and lead. There was doll church: the best church organ you ever say, programs, and a pulpit , as well as really fine tithing money. Those were the days. There the three girls would play, behind the door. Behind the door! Oh that Janssen is a genius!! Even as a young girl, Janssen never wanted to be late. “Don’t we open at ten on Saturdays? Yes we do, and it’s a good thing.” She’s the most punctual person you know. “Why didn’t you list that among our assets in the first place?”
By ninth grade, it was time for her to go to public school. “Holy buckets, Peter.” She started out keeping a low profile, before she exploded onto the straight A scene. “I turn with my fingers, listening with my ear to the clicks. . .now it’s time to get the dynamite.” Janssen was chosen three times in three different subjects as student of the month, each time being invited to the pizza party luncheon. “We’re going to need some boxes here.”
Janssen traveled widely, from British Columbia to Florida, to Washington DC and Maine, and lots of places in between. “Is who packed?” She’s been to the Pacific and the Atlantic. Even at the ocean, she looked her best. “Have I told you you look great in gold?” “Who’s scruffy looking?”
And of course, there was driving. “What a piece of junk!” “It may not look like much on the outside, kid, but it’s got it where it counts.” “You’re braver than I thought!!”
Then, she discovered her true love in high school. No, not a boy. “Do I look stupid? I never thought of myself as stupid, but maybe I am.” No, it was Forensics. The boy part comes later. And Mr. Misel. “A lonely man in an underpaid job. Let us not judge him too harshly.” In forensics, she won a room full of trophies, including best Novice. “Hey, I know that trick.” Every few weeks she moved up a level. “I take it to the next level, and then to the next level, until I reach that level that it’s absolutely necessary for me to leave.” We learned not to interrupt during the rousing description of the events of the tournament. “You need quiet while a hot dog is singing?”
Yes, the boys did start to come around. “Know her, I’m dating her.” And she had to be careful because “he looked like he was leaning.”
Well, now school has come to an end. “I . . .quit. I quit. I quit, Mr. White.” Janssen is heading off to college. “There she goes off to her room to write that hit song ‘Alone in my principles.'” Perhaps some guy at college will say “Nice coat, Merry Christmas. Will you marry me? I love you.”
How we will miss her in our home. But “we can make it, we can make it. . . I don’t think we can make it.”
As you leave, just remember these famous words, Janssen: “Bye, bye Janssen. Have fun storming the castle.”
Sheeya guys. Hold my calls.